Agriculture

California’s Delta: Inside and Out
6:00 am
Fri October 18, 2013

California Water Series Part 5: The Bay Delta Conservation Plan: A Solution for the Future?

Sandhill cranes
Department of Water Resources

Supporters say the Bay Delta Conservation Plan is one of the most ambitious habitat restoration programs California has ever attempted. But its proposal to build two tunnels to carry water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to central and southern California has also become one of the most controversial.

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California's Delta: Inside and Out
6:05 am
Thu October 17, 2013

California Water Series Part 4: The Delta - A Place Called Home

Mark Morais, left, owner of Giusti's and bartender Mark Rogerson, right.
Curtis Jerome Haynes

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is home to a half million people. In the fourth part of our series, we examine the culture of the Delta and talk to residents about their concerns over its future.

Before I set out to do this story, I’d only been to the Delta a few times. And when I had, it was just a scenic drive from Sacramento down Highway 160, which parallels the Sacramento River. Turns out, that’s not the ideal way to get to know the Delta.

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Water
3:48 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

Perea: California Water Bond Needs Fixing Before It Goes To Voters in 2014

Assembly Member Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno)
Credit The Californian / Reporting on Health Collaborative

The state's twice-delayed water bond needs more tweaking - and a diet - before it goes to voters in November 2014. That was the message delivered by Assembly member Henry T. Perea on Tuesday, as he spoke on Valley Public Radio's Valley Edition.

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California's Delta: Inside And Out
12:44 pm
Tue October 15, 2013

California Water Series Part 3: Food, Farms and Delta Water

Workers pack cantaloupes on Joe Del Bosque's farm
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

California is the nation’s largest agricultural state. It would not be possible without water from the Delta. Farmers say the water is their lifeblood, but it’s been cut back year after year.

California's farms and ranches generated nearly $45 billion in revenue last year. Without water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to arid Central Valley land, much of the produce we get in restaurants and grocery stores wouldn't come from California.

At Magpie Cafe in Sacramento, co-owner and Chef Ed Roehr sits down just as the lunch crowd is thinning.

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California's Delta: Inside and Out
6:00 am
Tue October 15, 2013

California Water Series Part 2: The Delta's Fragile Ecology

out on a boat on Montezuma Slough in the Suisun Marsh.
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was once a vast tidal marshland and inland estuary. Now thousands of miles of fragile levees surround artificial islands below sea level. More than 90 percent of wetlands have disappeared, and native fish are dying.

Suisun Marsh is the largest brackish water marsh on the West Coast. It’s at the Delta’s western most edge.  University of California Davis researchers set out on a boat in Montezuma Slough, which connects the Sacramento River to Suisun Bay.

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California's Delta: Inside and Out
6:27 pm
Sun October 13, 2013

California's Water Supply, A 700-Mile Journey

Chrisman Pumping Plant at the Grapevine
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

Both the federal Central Valley Project and the State Water Project rely on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to bring water to central and southern California. Amy Quinton takes us on a 700 mile journey following California's water supply.

Engineers drive me through a tunnel on an electric cart. We’re going down to the Hyatt Power Plant, which lies under rock at the bottom of the Oroville Dam.

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Government & Politics
6:02 pm
Wed October 9, 2013

Planned Farm At Running Horse Site Draws Opposition From West Fresno Residents

Pastor Booker T. Lewis opposes a proposal to allow agriculture operations in areas zoned for homes.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

About a dozen West Fresno residents and advocates gathered in front of Fresno City Hall today to express their disapproval of a text amendment that would pave the way for Granville Homes to plant a 360-acre almond orchard in their neighborhood.

Among them was Venise Curry, a West Fresno resident and physician. She’s concerned the proposed operation could expose residents to dust and pesticides, and harm their air and water.

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Community
1:07 pm
Wed October 2, 2013

Road Trip To Collect Dust Bowl Stories on 75th Anniversary of 'Grapes of Wrath'

"Young migratory mother, originally from Texas. On the day before the photograph was made she and her husband traveled 35 miles each way to pick peas. They worked 5 hours each and together earned $2.25. They have two young children . . . Live in auto camp." - at Edison in Kern County California - April 11, 1940
Credit Dorothea Lange / National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics

A group of artists is gearing up for a cross-country road trip that will end in California. It's part of a project to mark the 75th anniversary of John Steinbeck's novel "The Grapes of Wrath." Steve Milne reports.

The trip starts Friday in Oklahoma, retracing the path the Joad family took along Route 66 in "The Grapes of Wrath" with stops in New Mexico, Arizona and Texas.

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Environment
10:52 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Two New Water Bond Alternatives Draw Lawmakers' Scrutiny

file photo
Credit http://baydeltaconservationplan.com/

California lawmakers are taking a closer look at two new water bond proposals that would replace the measure currently set for next November’s ballot.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on Tuesday’s committee hearing at the Capitol.

One of the two alternative water bond proposals comes from Senator Lois Wolk and focuses on restoring the area she represents: the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

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Environment
2:28 pm
Tue September 17, 2013

In Kern County, Plans for Hydrogen Power Plant And Fertilizer Factory Ignite Debate

Tiffany Rau, a spokesperson for Hydrogen Energy California explains how the project's carbon capture element works.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

In the small Kern County community of Tupman, the 2013 pistachio harvest is well underway. 

Chris Romanini's family has been farming this land, just west of Interstate 5, where the valley's fields meet the Elk Hills for decades. 

It's probably not the first place you'd think of when it comes to the effort to reduce CO2 emissions and combat global warming. But just a few hundred yards away from this orchard, plans for a $4 billion power plant and fertilizer factory could soon make the Tupman area known for a lot more than those pistachios. 

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Agriculture
12:23 pm
Tue September 10, 2013

Tiny Bug Has Central California Citrus Growers On Edge

The citrus psyllid is about the same size as an aphid.
Ezra Romero Valley Public Radio

Throughout Central California those who work in the citrus industry are on edge.  A tiny insect, no larger than an aphid, is threatening the future of the state’s billion dollar citrus crop.

It’s known as the Asian Citrus Psyllid.

“It looks kind of like an aphid, only with a harder body, and a little bit browner," says Beth Grafton-Cardwell, an entomology specialist with the University of California at the Lindcove Research Center just west of Visalia.

And the creature’s babies are just as pleasant.

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Government & Politics
5:36 pm
Thu September 5, 2013

Livestock Theft Bill Advances Through State Senate

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Cattle rustling or crop raiding might seem like a relic of the Wild West, but in the San Joaquin Valley surrounding foothills, cattle theft is on the rise. So much so that it's inspired a new bill by a local legislator that passed the Senate earlier this week. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra Romero reports on the Livestock Theft Prevention Act.

A bill that would beef up fines for stealing livestock passed through the Senate Tuesday with unanimous, bi-partisan support. The bill would establish a $5,000 fine for anyone convicted of livestock theft.

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Valley Edition
3:05 pm
Tue September 3, 2013

Author Interview: Seth Holmes Talks About Farmworkers' "Broken Bodies"

Seth Holmes book "Fresh Fruit, Broken Bodies: Migrant Farmworkers in the United State" takes a look into the lives of migrant workers on the West Coast.
Credit http://sph-publications.berkeley.edu/

As the House and Senate continue to struggle to find common ground on the issue of immigration reform, one University of California, Berkeley professor is working to bring new insights into a significant group of undocumented immigrants here in California and throughout the west – those who pick the food we eat every day.

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Business & Economy
4:34 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Interview: Modern Farmers "Care Where Their Food Comes From"

Ann Marie Gardner is the editor of Modern Farmer Magazine.
Credit Modern Farmer Magazine

Farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are embracing a nationwide trend: America's newfound love affair with food culture. 

You see it everyday on television, at the farmers market, and on thousands of “foodie” blogs online. There are heirloom tomatoes at the local store, artisanal cheeses, and grass-fed beef, all with a focus on quality over quantity.

And in the process, something interesting is happening - farming is actually becoming cool.

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Valley Edition
12:36 pm
Tue August 20, 2013

Can Alt. Farmers Stake A Claim In The San Joaquin Valley?

Sisters Holly and Hannah Johnson collect eggs on thier River Roots Farm.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we take a look at what we are calling "Alt. Farmers."

In a region where big agriculture is big business, a new generation of farmers is challenging our notion of what life on the farm is all about. These socially conscious, technology savvy boutique growers and ranchers are going beyond organic to embrace the latest trends in food and popular culture.

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Government & Politics
11:53 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Controversial Farmworker Bill Passes Assembly

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

The California Assembly has approved a bill that would make it easier for farm workers to obtain union contracts with their employers.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure passed Monday with the bare minimum votes needed – despite strong opposition from growers.

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Business & Economy
11:38 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Valley Consumers Help Drive Local Farm to Fork Culture, Economy

There are over 500 tomato plants on Tower Urban Family Farms four backyard plots.
Ezra Romero Valley Public Radio

 It’s not just farmers who are taking part in this new trend that is reshaping agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley. It’s also consumers. From pop-up “farm to fork” meals to acclaimed local chefs perusing the goods at a rapidly increasing number of local farmers markets, our relationships, our food and those who grow it are changing. And even in an area where fast food and chain restaurants are king, eating local is proving to be more than just a trend for many Valley residents. 

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Chris Shakelford is on a quest for perfect produce.

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Business & Economy
10:41 am
Tue August 20, 2013

For Young Goat Farmer, Mohair Is All The Rage

Allen Mesick raises Angora goats at Eureka Mohair Farm in Tollhouse.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

A new generation of farmers is challenging our idea of what it means to work in agriculture in the Central Valley. Two special Valley Edition reports examine who these modern farmers are, and how they're connecting with the burgeoning, nationwide interest in boutique culture.

In this audio postcard, 30-year-old Allen Mesick introduces us to Eureka Mohair Farm in Tollhouse, where he and his partner Randy Shumaker raise Angora goats for mohair.

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Business & Economy
10:28 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Young Farmers Cultivate A New Image for Valley Agriculture

Amber Balakian makes her Organic Blended Heirloom Tomatoes from the tomatoes grown on her family's Reedley farm.
Rebecca Plevin Valley Public Radio

Amber Balakian grew up on a farm in Reedley. Her family grows 80 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, plus a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

But it took her attending Harvard University’s Extension School to realize that her family’s business was pretty cool. She returned to the 20-acre farm after she earned her master’s degree in 2009.

“My main goal coming back and working here was to make things more efficient,” Balakian says. “I just didn’t know how. One of the main things – we were dumping a ton of fruit, ton of vegetables.”

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Agriculture
6:07 pm
Wed August 14, 2013

Large Raisin Crop Expected for 2013

(file photo)
Credit Flickr user Mariam - http://www.flickr.com/photos/70123617@N00/ / Creative Commons license

A new crop forecast from the USDA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture indicates this year's raisin crop could be as much as 25 percent larger than last year's.

It's expected to be the largest raisin crop since 2008, at 2.4 million tons. Last year's crop was just over 1.9 million tons. Over 200,000 acres of raisin grapes are in production this year. 

Officials say that warm weather has been good for crop development, which is a few days ahead of normal.

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